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Family Medicine Resident Weekend goes virtual

Ian McLean & Jenna Petker

It all started 22 years ago in a very informal event format after a taskforce of members in the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce decided more needed to be done for the healthcare of those in the region. All these years later and the annual Family Medicine Resident Weekend has become a staple of the chamber’s calendar, hosting more than 30 young doctors on the first weekend of November each year.

Like many other events, the resident weekend had to be altered because of the coronavirus pandemic, moving to a virtual format via videoconferencing. While this was a change from the usual in person event which would see the doctors hosted at a hotel and meet with representatives from around the region, chamber president and CEO Ian McLean says it was a success.

“It went really well. I think we have over 30 doctors, some from London or from the UK and right from various points around the province and around the country. It was in a virtual environment, so different than what we are used to, but I think there were good opportunities for breakout sessions and hearing from clinicians and or doctors from different aspects with practice opportunities,” he said.

“We virtually toured them around the region, with everything from some of the practice opportunity areas to places like the medical centre, the Boardwalk, and also showcased the cities and the township and that sort of thing, so they got a good flavour over four hours of the information and practice opportunities in the community. We were pleased with how it went, and we got great feedback from our partners. I personally was on for all the four hours [of the virtual event] and had good feedback from a number of the attendees as well.”

McLean says that you may not be able to replace the personal touch of having the event in person, but the Hopin platform they used made the event go very well and now they are looking at bringing some of the potential doctors here in person.

On an average year, between nine and 12 doctors come to the region thanks to the annual event. Even though the pandemic has shifted things dramatically in the lives of many people, McLean expects those numbers to hold true as he has already seen many doctors make commitments.

The event may have just ended, but the work continues as the chamber and partners work to successfully bring new doctors to the region. Next year will mark the 23rd annual iteration of the event and while there is no possible way to predict how COVID-19 will affect our lives, McLean says they are already planning on potentially hosting the 2021 version of the event in a hybrid format.

“We’re probably no different than the chamber itself and the events we’re doing, we probably would look at doing both [online and in-person for the next Family Medicine Resident Weekend] because some people are unable to travel and we want to still entertain them. So, we will probably look at the opportunity to do both, but that’s up into the future we’ll see what happens. But what we do know is we’re going to be recruiting family doctors for the foreseeable future in whatever form we’re able to do,” he added.

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